Tag Archives: bawley

Some good news about the lovely bawley Thistle RR2

Here’s some great, encouraging news from Faversham’s Lena Reekie, a traditional boat enthusiast well known for organising various local boating events:

‘She is 130 years – a sad looking but beautiful lady. Thistle RR2 is the last of the Rochester bawleys, built by Gill in 1887.

‘She has a 34ft keel, 13ft beam and 5ft draught.

‘After a long working life out of Rochester and Gravesend, Phil
Wilkinson, a smack and bawley enthusiast, found her sunk in Kingston-on- Thames. He acquired her in 1976 and, having rescued her from an almost certain bonfire, began a thorough rebuild to get her back afloat and sailing again. It was a remarkable achievement by one man.

‘She was was later owned by Mark Jones and based at Hollowshore near Faversham. With her loose-footed mainsail, very tall topmast and long bowsprit she was a beautiful sight and was often seen sailing in the Swale, Medway and on the East Coast.

‘Sadly, about 10 years ago, she was no longer looked after, finally sank again, unwanted, and recently it became clear that she was again heading for the chainsaw.

‘But now a group of friends from Iron Wharf appalled by the prospect of Thistle meeting a sad end have stepped in. They got the ‘go ahead’ to re-float the old bawley and at the end of July she was towed to Iron Wharf, where she now awaits further action.

‘The group also purchased her sails and a smack boat dinghy from the previous owner.

‘The aim is now to lift her out for a short time to assess the work and cost to keep her afloat over the winter and at to carry out necessary repairs. Unfortunately her new owners have limited funds and are obliged to appeal for help.

‘Initially there will be a fund raising raffle at the Anchor Pub in Faversham on Sunday 8 October at about 3 pm, after the finish of the annual Iron Wharf Rowing Race between Nagden and Faversham Town Quay.  All are welcome to take part.’

For information, please contact Lena Reekie on 01795 229564 or 07968 058398.

By the way, I can confirm that her hull form has a lovely ‘just right for the job’ look.

 

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The bawley Emma

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Vic Maynard and his lovingly rebuilt bawley Emma in 2009/10. He told me her story over a pint at The Shipwright’s Arms at Hollowshore over the weeked.

She was originally built in in clinker 1845 by Thomas Bundock at Leigh on Sea, probably for the purposes of cockling and shrimping, like other bawleys.

Vic says she was not built by Haywards as has been suggested, as there are no records of similar boat being built at that yard before 1850. Bawleys built after 1850 or so were built in carvel.

Bundock had served his apprenticeship at the Maldon yard of James Williamson at the time that the well known smack Boadicea was built in 1808, and Vic reckons the bawley and the smack have something in common.

Bundock had daughter called Emma, who married her skipper and likely owner, a Henry Cotgrave, who seems to have been locally known as ‘Benson’, probably as a result of a connection with a Mrs Benson in London.

Vic suggests this is the same ‘Benson’ that is mentioned in the excellent 1893 book by H Lewis-Jones Swin, Swale and Swatchway, which is currently available in reprint from Lodestar.

It is thought that Emma came to Kent around the turn of the century, first into the hands of the Jemmet family of Faversham, and that she was then owned from 1928 until 2010 by Jim Gregory.

She remained a clinker-built craft until 1917, when she was converted to carvel. Rather than do the job wholesale, which would have created a completely new boat, Vic had Dan and Barry Tester of Hollowshore rebuild her piece by piece so that she would remain the Emma, and in doing so found that in converting her to carvel all those years ago, her clinker strakes had been filled out with feather-edged boards and tar. She had remained like that for more than nine decades…

These days, he has her beautifully sorted out inside and out, with just a tiny space under the foredeck that suffices as a cabin.

Gotty and the Guv’nor

Gotty and the guv’nor: a true narrative of Gotty’s doings ashore & afloat, with an account of his voyage of discovery on a shrimping bawley in the English channel

There are many smiles and a few laughs in this daft old book published in 1907 – though it might reasonably be subtitled ‘a true collection of the sorts of stories waterside blokes are apt to tell even today’.

Read a writerly little piece about the author, novelist Arthur E Arthur Copping, here.

My thanks to Nigel who runs the the Bexley London Borough Blog for leading me to this one!

PS – I gather from Dick Johnson (see comments below) that there’s another Gotty book Gotty in Furren Parts, but I’ve been unable to find an archive link, and it does seem to be pretty scarce… Shame!